meditation & recovery

Recovery capital

What I’m Thinking
The world needs recovery right now. These past few months we’ve had mudslides in Sierra Leone, Hurricanes in the U.S.A, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Earth Quakes in Mexico, Terrorist Attacks in Europe, and Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un squaring up against each other, and the most recent gun killings in Las Vegas. There is a lot of fear in society, and when there is FEAR we can either Face Everything And Recover by dealing with it or Fear Everything And Run. Reality can be traumatic, painful and hard. We can be at risk of addictions when we turn away from reality and fear feeling the excruciating discomfort of life. Addiction, Alcoholism and compulsive behaviors often escalate during the aftermath of a crisis, because people want to try and quickly forget the pain. And why would we want to dwell on the pain? In times of major disasters, catastrophes, terrorism, we need to tap into our ‘Recovery Capital’ resources that will help us during challenging times.


Inspiring Jargon

Recovery capital is the contemporary jargon that refers to the internal and external resources necessary for an individual to achieve and maintain recovery from substance misuse as well as make behavioral changes. Coined by (Granfield & Cloud, 1999. People are beginning to realize that recovery can be jeopardized by an individual’s social networks, lack of community support, cultural and racial barriers and taboos. Mindfulness and the language of the heart is what the Buddhist teachings offer. The breath and the heart are internal resources we can tap into 24/7. When we get in touch with breathing and loving kindness our external resources begin to flourish

What I’m reading
In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Mate.

Gabor Mate takes us into the dark grimy places of addiction with some of his clients he has worked with. And then he juxtaposes his own addiction to Classical Music, with the addictions of his clients. And the startling truth is, you wake up to the fact that this too – could be a matter of life and death. He left his eleven-year-old child stranded in a comic shop for one hour while going off elsewhere to buy music. He was lucky to find his son bemused and still waiting for him an hour later. He left a woman in the hospital while in labor, and ran over a bridge to buy music. He missed the delivery and made excuses to his disappointed patient and colleagues. He spent $8000 in two weeks, and while he never took his life over the debt he was running up, others may have in this situation.

What I’m Obsessing about
Raw Cashew nuts. As my friend Gabor says, Cashew nuts are really tough to eschew. Much easier just to chew.

What I’m Listening to
Listening to Prince EA’s Jim Carrey “Crazy” Behavior Explained!!! Prince EA asks has Jim Carrey Lost His Mind? Or Has he uncovered a truth about the nature of reality? This is my favorite populist creative piece of art on the concept of anatta, non-self. A Buddhist teaching that can help every suffering addict, begin to maintain their abstinence and sobriety of mind.
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What I noticed
While sitting doing my daily meditation to help maintain my abstinence and sobriety of mind, I was confronted with the noise of power tools. After 35 minutes of oscillating between peacefulness and slight frustration. I began to laugh. My thoughts had become louder than any lawn mower I’ve ever heard. It was a subtle reminder that the power tools was not the issue, it was the agitated mind. When I’m triggered, it’s helpful to realize it’s not the trigger that is the issue, it is the stir crazy narratives that arise, in trying to avoid the discomfort of the seeing the trigger, or in my case this morning, trying to avoid the discomfort of the sound I did not want to hear.

Something I’m doing
I will be delivering an online Mindfulness Based Addiction Recovery course during the month of January 2018. For people in recovery and people working in the field of recovery. For more information please email mark@wildmind.org

New Updated Edition of Detox Your Heart – Meditations on Emotional Trauma 2017

For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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Meditation for recovery: program adapts Buddhist practice to fight addiction

EmmaJean Holley, Valley News: It’s 9 on a Tuesday morning, and Larry Lowndes is setting out the cushions.

Lowndes is the assistant director of the Second Wind Foundation, which operates an addiction recovery center in Wilder that serves as a space for a number of recovery groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step meetings. But Lowndes has recently introduced a new, less conventional program at Turning Point: Refuge Recovery, a peer-to-peer, mindfulness-based recovery group, grounded in Buddhist principles.

Some of the participants in the group have been practicing meditation, and sobriety, for …

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When does craving become addiction?

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Joan Duncan Oliver, Tricycle: Only two things have I ever craved as much as life itself: drink and a man. To save my life, I had to give up the drink. To give up the drink, I had to give up the man.

My desire for both was total, visceral: passion seeking its own DNA. The bond was physical, emotional, spiritual, chemical—drink, man, and I locked in a menage a trois.

It began, however, as a folie á deux. Alcohol was my first love: a constant, if feckless …

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Meditation was the most unexpected tool in my addiction recovery

wildmind meditation news

Britni de la Cretaz, SheKnows: When I arrived at rehab for my alcohol and cocaine addiction, one of the first things I was handed was a schedule with the day’s activities on it. It included groups and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings I would need to attend, as well as meal times — all the usual things you’d expect to find on a daily rehab schedule.

But I was a little taken aback to see that the first thing on the agenda every morning — from 8 to 8:10 — was meditation. The idea of having to meditate for 10 minutes every day was baffling to me. I immediately chalked it up to hooey or some woo-woo crap.

I skipped as many mornings as I could. When I did participate, I did anything but focus on my breath for the 10 minutes. How could I? My brain had too many other things to think about, and I was pretty sure those things were far more interesting and important than sitting quietly and counting in breaths and out breaths.

I thought about how stupid it was that I had to sit quietly for 10 minutes. I thought about how badly I wanted to peek at the clock so I could see how much time I had left. I thought about how I would probably most definitely drink again when I left treatment. I thought about the fact that I absolutely would not move into a sober house after rehab. And maybe once, maybe twice, over the course of those 10 minutes, I’d focus on my breathing.

While I was sitting there thinking about all the things that were much more interesting and important than meditation, something funny happened. Progressively, I had fewer and fewer thoughts that seemed all that important. Slowly, my brain began to quiet. Instead of focusing on one or two breaths over the course of the 10 minutes, I found myself coming back to that breath every 30 seconds or so. Four months later, when it was time to leave treatment, meditation had become like a sigh of relief for my brain. It became something I looked forward to every morning instead of something I dreaded.

Meditation, it turned out, was something I could carry with me into my day. When I first arrived at rehab, my mind was always racing. It jumped ahead to three Thursdays from now. It played an endless stream of what-ifs. That, in turn, caused a great deal of anxiety because I can’t control the future. I don’t know what will happen in an hour, let alone tomorrow or next week. Inevitably, that stress and uncertainty led to me to pick up alcohol and drugs to quiet my mind.

Meditation gave me the ability to stay present, to find the here and now. It taught me how not to get ahead of myself. To sit with my emotions and my discomfort instead of running from them or numbing them with substances. By learning to sit through uncomfortable feelings, I also got to learn that those feelings — all feelings, in fact, both good and bad — would pass. Candice Rasa, clinical director of Beach House Center for Recovery, says that my experience is a common one.

“During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress,” Rasa explains. “This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.” For me, that looked like an overall calmness and a decrease in my anxiety levels. I also began to explore different kinds of meditation — guided meditations using phone apps, practicing yoga, and repeating a mantra over and over again. Each of these forms of meditation provided something different.

Yoga allowed me to connect my meditation practice to my physical body. As a trauma survivor who often drank and used drugs to cope with my post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, I wasn’t used to feeling present in my body. Yoga and progressive muscle relaxation — a form of meditation where you systematically relax every muscle in your body — helped me learn to be present in my body again and to really feel it.

Rasa says that this benefit of meditation, of keeping people in the present, is very important for those of us who are recovering from addiction because “it allows for greater self-awareness… and reduces negative emotions, which leads to [fewer] destructive behaviors, such as picking up drugs and alcohol.”

The most helpful thing anyone ever told me is something that Rasa stresses, too: There is no wrong way to meditate. During those first few weeks when I was thinking about anything other than my breathing, someone told me that if I had focused on my breath even once during those 10 minutes, then I had meditated. Meditation, like anything else, is a practice. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

Ultimately, meditation became just one of many tools that I use in my recovery. It’s something that I can use at any time, in any place, and I can tailor it to my needs. It’s given me the ability to quiet my brain and find the time to just breathe, which helps bring me back to center — and makes it less likely that I’ll need drugs or alcohol to cope with how I’m feeling. And that, truly, is a gift.

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Accidents, slips and relapse

Vimalasara

I had an accident early December. My doctor prescribed me some medicine for a tongue fungus, that caused a numbing sensation at the back and the side of the tongue, making speaking quite difficult.alco

When I took the first spoon of medicine, I exclaimed to my partner: “oh no it has sugar in it”. She said: “Just know it’s medicine, and it’s going to make you better.”

I told my sponsor too, he said something similar too. And although it made sense, I wondered how on earth was I going to cope with putting four spoons of sweetened syrup in my system and survive?

Well I did, and began to delude myself, after the 5th day of thinking, oh I can eat sugar after all, I’ve not binged or reached for any other sugar at all. Ignoring the fact that my teaspoon of medicine seemed to get bigger and bigger, until I began swigging it from the bottle. Yes swigging it. Sugar is my alcohol, and if I consume enough of it my head ends up down the toilet. I have a physical allergy to the poison and when in my system I can’t stop.

I wanted to come off it, but I wanted to be able to move my tongue and speak without lisping too. But I deluded myself. I had googled the medicine on day two and saw there was a capsule form too, but had the mediating thought: ‘I will be a pain in the butt, if I go and complain to my doctor.’

Now if I was an alcoholic, and I came home with medicine loaded with alcohol, I would not take it. I choose not to have alcohol in my system, and I know for sure I would have been marching back to the doctors waving the bottle saying give me something else.

What I’ve learned from this is: I need to take my sugar addiction and allergy of the body seriously. Because nobody else is going too. Nobody see’s the mad woman, who came of the medicine after 10 days, and on the 12th day was eating one bar of chocolate, four cookies, four toffee’s. Not much you may think, but it’s enough to have me back on the vicious cycle of addiction.

This time of year for many people around the world is a time of accidents, slips and relapse. But it can also be a time of abstinence, sobriety of mind and recovery.

  • If you slip and or relapse get back on track immediately.
  • Take a breath. Just one breath and Pause.
  • It may be you get down on your knees literally and pray to your God of Understanding
  • Recite – Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.
  • Reflect on the misery of what it would mean to be back on the cycle of addiction
  • Accept the experience of your slip and or accident, by staying with the feelings arising in the moment.
  • Be aware of self pity, blame and distractions, as they may well just induce another slip and or relapse
  • Be aware of isolating, lack of sleep, hygiene. Ask for Help
  • Go to a meeting
  • Remember your thoughts are not facts
  • Know that everything is impermanent
  • Reality is perfumed with compassion

For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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Incorporating meditation, mindfulness into addiction treatment may enhance recovery

wildmind meditation newsPR Rocket: Mental health is an integral part of addiction recovery, and practicing meditation and mindfulness could help reduce risk of relapse, shares Chapters Capistrano.

There is no blanket solution to treating addiction. What works for one person may not work as well for another, making customized treatment programs even more essential. Focusing on both physical and mental wellbeing can help clients develop a more comprehensive recovery plan that addresses the numerous challenges they may face. Los Angeles-area rehab center Chapters Capistrano has released a statement to the press regarding the integration of mindfulness and meditation into recovery efforts and the benefits it can provide.

“Mental health plays a large part in the recovery process,” says Susie Shea, co-owner of Chapters Capistrano, a drug and alcohol rehab center. “Detox cleanses the body of any toxic substances, but it doesn’t change a person’s thought processes or address how their brain has been affected by substance use. That is where multiple therapy modalities and practices come into play, meditation being one of them.”

Meditation helps people to refocus and become more aware of their thoughts and emotions, notes Shea. They are able to identify negative thought patterns that can lead to triggers or temptation. According to the Huffington Post, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and training can benefit clients by affecting “areas of the brain associated with craving, negative effect, and relapse.”

By changing how people react to these situations, it can help them to push through addiction cravings and challenging issues without resorting to drug or alcohol use. Instead, they rely on healthier, more productive means of coping with these problems. “Changing your perspective and being more aware of your emotions can have a significant impact on your mental health and decision making,” says Shea.

Intervening negative thoughts and cravings before they have a chance to evolve into something more serious can keep clients in a more positive frame of mind, asserts Shea. They are able to step back and make more conscious decisions to support their continued sobriety, realizing that they don’t have to give in. They have choices. Meditation and mindfulness can be effective ways of helping to manage stress as well, especially over the holidays.

“In addiction recovery, it’s important to keep an open mind,” explains Shea. “Clients should be willing to try new things and open themselves up to experiences that could be beneficial to their progress. Even if they never pictured themselves as someone doing meditation, once they try it, they may find that it is a very rewarding experience. At Chapters Capistrano, we offer clients a wide range of options including meditation, massage, and hydrotherapy in addition to 12-step and non 12-step approaches so that they can figure out what works best for their recovery.”

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Step seven: Making every effort to stay on the path of recovery

Eight Step Recovery

Once you think you’ve got recovery, you’ve lost your recovery. Because what is recovery? It is a path that can take us to liberation and freedom. Recovery is always changing. What it looked like when you first had one week of abstinence, is very different to what it will look like after one year or after 30 years.

‘Once an addict always an addict’, is often a saying we hear. There is good sense in this phrase, because it reminds us not to delude ourselves, and think: ‘Right, I’ve not picked up my choice of distraction for six months, I’m okay now’.

Let’s not delude ourselves because we can think the same after 20 years of recovery too. This saying does have its pitfalls because we can hold onto an old identity that does not serve us anymore.

The Eight Steps

In Eight Step Recovery: ‘We ask if you really want recovery are you prepared to go to any lengths to let go of your self view?’

This is the first of the mental bonds that bind us to human suffering. Thinking we are a fixed self, and that we are our body, feelings, perceptions, mental formation and sensory consciousness. The Buddha taught that all these five skandhas are empty of self. He taught that nothing among them is ‘I, or mine or me’.

If we want recovery we do have to let go of the identities that created the addicted self. We stay on the path of recovery when we realize that the only thing we own are our actions.

There is also a Buddhist teaching that says ‘guard the sense doors’. What this means is that we don’t deliberately put ourselves in vulnerable places. For example if you are a sex addict you don’t go to a sex show. If you’re an alcoholic you don’t put yourself in situations where alcohol is being rammed in your face. If you’re a coke addict you don’t stay in a room where people are white lining. We guard the sense doors by not putting ourselves in situations where we will be easily triggered.

There are enough triggers out there in the world that we will have to practise loving kindness and mindfulness to keep us sober and abstinent.

The good news is, it is possible to have disinterest in our distraction or substance or behaviour of choice. But we still need to be vigilant by preventing, and eradicating unhelpful states of mind.

In the rooms of 12 steps we are told to HALT. If you are aware of a subtle craving, ask if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired.

We need to maintain helpful states of mind by cultivating and maintaining our abstinence and sobriety of mind. Making every effort to stay on the path of recovery is a lifetime practise, and one well worth living. The more effort we make, the easier it becomes, but there is not time of the path of recovery, if we want to liberate our self from suffering.

For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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Lapse or relapse?

Man appearing to be falling.

‘Often the fear of a relapse can be the trigger for us to slip and slide. Just as lapses must be recognized as an opportunity to work our program of recovery diligently, the relapse must also be seen as a GIFT: A Great Indicator For Throwing Stuff out. They are the emergency alarm bell telling us we are on fire, and need to stop and pause to put the fire out. Dreading the relapse will just put us onto the vicious cycle of addiction.’ —Eight Step Recovery: Using The Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction.

Relapse is part of the continuum for recovery. Few people manage to get total abstinence of their recovering journey from day one. And those who do, most probably were practising some form of harm reduction before they came out and publicly said: ‘No more. I’ve had enough. I’m not picking up ever again.’

Many of us do harm reduction, and/or relapse, under the scornful eyes that can judge us. Such overt or covert judgement can trigger nihilistic and facilitative thoughts inside of us like; ‘I’m a loser, I can never get clean, I may as well continue’, and we can begin to inhabit toxic feelings of shame. The scornful eyes, or the judging comments from others may never change but our relationship to relapse and our inner world of toxic stinking thinking can.

First we must begin to identify between a lapse and a relapse. For example, we have a row with someone, we feel nauseated, and we turn away from the overwhelming feeling without being aware of the thoughts in our head that we have identified with, like, ‘F***, I want a drink’. This identification is often unconscious and sometimes conscious, and the ending result of both is picking up our fix and using. This can be a lapse and turn into a relapse.

A lapse can end at that first sip, first puff, picking up the needle, turning on the computer. It could be by accident you pick up your stimulant of choice, unaware it had alcohol or sugar in it. Unaware that when you woke up your computer there were triggering images glaring back at you. Or it may be that you slip after a difficult situation, you pick up, become aware of what you have done, and you have a choice, do you put it down or do you continue? When you put it down it’s a lapse. When you continue it is a relapse.

Sometimes a lapse can be as long as a day, and then you get back on track and lapse again. However, if this pattern is occurring more than a week, then you really do have to admit you are in a relapse. A lapse is most definitely not an excuse to say well: ‘I can have one drink and call that a lapse’. The intention of having the drink, the motivation of having the drink would be acted out of a mind conning itself and would most probably end up in relapse.

Recognizing a genuine lapse is important. There is a gap after a lapse where thoughts and emotions emerge. In this gap we can make a new decision. We do this with the breath. When powerful thoughts like: ‘What the heck, I’m gonna use anyway’ arise, we must become absorbed in our breathing rather than absorbed in our thoughts. If we go for refuge to these thoughts — give them a prominent place in the heart and mind — we will inevitably spiral into relapse.

If we do lapse we have to be prepared that our thoughts can become overwhelming and we will lose sobriety of mind. This is where we have to work our recovery, because for the next few days our mind will be full of all sorts of thoughts of using, and we have to turn toward them kindly and know that all the mind is doing is producing thoughts we have no control over, and trust they will quieten down.

If we resist these thoughts the mind will go into mindless obsessing and before we know it we will be sliding helter-skelter into a relapse. And so recovering from a lapse is perhaps one of the most challenging things we have to do if we want to strengthen our abstinence and sobriety.

We have to stop listening to both the external and internal judgments made by others and ourselves. We have to choose our recovery over the relapse. This is even harder. Many of us relapse because in that moment of being triggered we want the our stimulant or distraction of choice, more than we want our recovery. A relapse can also be premeditated, planned and often triggered by a lapse.

Awareness of body, feelings and thought can help deter a relapse and lapse. When we can pause and connect to the body, feelings, and thoughts, everything slows down, and we can catch the catastrophic drama unravelling in the mind. We relapse because we disappear into the thoughts which are so overwhelming that the inevitability of falling of the wagon is lurking in the next moment. If we can learn to disappear into the breath, thoughts will become impermanent, and will not exist or grip us in the same way.

If we train the heart-mind to be more mindful we may begin to see that if we always do what we’ve always done, we will always get what we have always got. We will see the insanity of our relapses which are habitual behaviours that keep on producing the same results.


Please email us at eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com for a free copy of the booklet on how to run meetings, and for the free collection of 21 meditations for recovery.

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Mindful awareness of what addiction is

Eight Step Recovery

Before we can move onto step 6, “Placing Positives Values at the Center of Our Lives,” we really need to come into “Mindful Awareness of What Addiction is.” It’s easy to delude ourselves when the scientists define 10 types of addictions, and our particular one does not come up on their list.

  1. Alcohol
  2. Tobacco
  3. Caffeine
  4. Marijuana
  5. Solvents
  6. Opiates ( like pain killers, heroine, morphine, ketamine)
  7. Anti Anxiety Sedatives
  8. Psycho Stimulants (like speed or cocaine)
  9. Amphetamine (like ecstasy)
  10. Hallucinogens (like LSD)

If you only want to believe what the scientists say then how about reflecting on this: Scientists state that for something to be an addiction it must have the following characteristics…

  • It must be a repeated behaviour that results in distress or negative impact
  • You continue to repeat the behaviour despite the fact it will cause distress
  • You have a state of physiological need such that physiological signs occur when you stop taking them, and these physiological signs also includes depression, anxiety disorder, anger
  • You experience stress when you try to stop
  • You exhibit behaviours of lying, or concealing behaviours (whenever you participate in the addictive behaviour and do not want others to see that you are concealing something)
  • You behaviour is persistent, and you have not been able to cut back or stop
  • You may be able to stop the behaviour but relapse

Scientists also claim that before something can be considered addicting it must have the characteristic of a brain disorder. And because addiction is classified as a brain disorder, addiction can be cured.

While gambling has been added to the scientists’ list of addiction, we still have some way to go to have sugar, food, sex, internet, shopping and many other things included. Meanwhile these categories may not have been scientifically proved to be an addiction, but don’t kid yourselves—they can produce the above characteristics.

The Eight Steps

Addiction or not, what we can agree on that mindfulness has a lot to contribute to dis-ease. Statistics have proved that drug addiction and alcoholism has a profound impact on the frontal cortex in the brain, which is responsible for behaviour, shrinking it to the same size as that of someone with schizophrenia. And scientific evidence also proves that mindfulness has a profound impact on the frontal cortex. MRI scans on a brain that has been exposed to an 8 week mindfulness course show that the amygdala shrinks, which impacts the pre frontal cortex that is responsible for decision making, concentration and awareness.

The reality is that addiction is all the same, there is just different labels for them. The initial trigger that prompted us to turn towards a substance, was about us turning away from our present experience wether it be a negative or positive one.

Admittedly certain behaviours can be harmful, but not addictive. However if we repeat them over and over again, and act out some of the characteristics above, I think we have to accept that we do have an addiction that needs paying Mindful Awareness too.

Especially if it is at the center of your life. What I mean by that is;

  • What do you spend most of your time thinking about?
  • What thoughts frequent your mind?
  • What do you spend a lot of your time doing?
  • What do you spend your money on?

There is not one cure for substance abuse, substance misuse and I include sugar, food, sex, internet as substances. In fact it’s claimed that sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine. And it has as many harmful impacts like, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

However I invite you to place Mindfulness at the center of your thoughts and be open to see what happens. Those of you who have had addictive behaviours, know very well what has been the material of your thoughts, what has occupied your mind.

What would it mean to put the breath at the center of your thoughts?
What would it mean to disappear into your breath rather than disappearing into your thoughts?

More on placing positive qualities at the center of your life next month.

For a free sample of the book study and 21 meditations of Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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Walking my talk

bowl of cashews

I decided it was about time I make some more effort at walking my talk. So what better opportunity do I have but to work through the 8 steps that I co-founded to take me out of my misery? Although many of the teachings I speak about in the book, were inspirations for me to change my life. I’ve not surrendered to a mentor/sponsor to take me systematically through the set of 8 steps.

While writing the notes on 8 step meetings, which I should say I attended daily while working in India for the month of January, and also writing on how to mentor someone in the program, I thought wouldn’t it be great for somebody to mentor me. So I wrote to my sponsor a long time 12 stepper in several programs and asked: ‘Will you sponsor me?’

He emailed me back: ‘Hahaha, interesting, you know. The idea of taking the woman who wrote the book through them is just kind of topsy-turvy. Anyway, sure I’d be glad to do that. It would be good for me too. I’ve been looking forward to an opportunity to do something like this with someone, to explore the steps myself with someone,  and you’re the first person to turn up. And naturally I’m confident that you won’t give up or do it on a shallow level.’

Well it’s kinda topsy turvy for me too. Surrendering to my own work. But I realize more and more as I mentor people through this program, and read the emails sent to me, that I need to keep on walking my talk. Those of you who are familiar with food addiction will know, that it is non stop work, and if we are not mindful grey areas do arise.

So I thought I would work on my relationship to cashew nuts, You may laugh, everybody else does, or they tell me: ‘It’s healthy, you’re a vegan—eat away’. But I can’t kid myself, I know that I have a neurotic relationship with them. I know that, because if you told me today I could never eat cashews again, I would cry (metaphorically), and find it incredibly challenging. It’s not so much the behaviour it is the volition behind the behaviour. Still holding to a past that can drive a behaviour.

My trip to India put me in my uncomfortable zone, I was powerless over the foods I could eat. I had no choice but forced into renunciation of my green smoothies, my marmite and tahini, my rice cakes, for a diet of rice and oily vegetable curries three times a day. While I loved the food, I knew I could not keep such a diet. I was shocked to realize that I had a huge fear of becoming bigger. This fear was behind my neurotic eating of cashews, the only food I could cling onto, while away from my familiar environment.

While working with people who are struggling in their addictions, I often say: ‘You have to be abstinent’. I’ve forgotten how painful it is to let go and be abstinent, as there are so many things I have chosen to live without in my life. And I also remember that harm reduction can be a way to go, if abstinence is the place we truly want to land upon, and even that at times may not be perfect.

So I wanted to investigate, why is it so hard to let go of a habit, a behaviour that causes us stress, unsatisfactoriness and can never be permanent in our lives?

So I’m in the hot house. Join me in doing one meditation a day from the 21 meditations for recovery. Check in daily. Email for a copy of the 8 step book study, mentoring and meetings.

For a free sample of the book study and 21 meditations of Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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